A REAL GEM: Loulou de la Falaise, one of the most notable muses and longtime collaborators of Yves Saint Laurent, has a new fashion partner — this time in New York. According to a Paris source, the chic designer is teaming up with Oscar de la Renta on a jewelry project. The two are said to already have held design meetings and the designs could hit de la Renta’s runway in February.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: Italian playboy Lapo Elkann apparently will present his own line of accessories and apparel in Milan today. He sent out cryptic invitations to a presentation for his nascent label, Italia Independent, citing a “new tactile experience.” Elkann, the grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli, launched an eyewear line made of carbon last season and word has it he’s expanding his product offering to jackets, pants and bags made from high-tech materials such as Gore-Tex and the fibers used in bulletproof vests.

SHADY CHARACTERS: His eyes forever shielded by dark glasses, Karl Lagerfeld certainly knows the ins and outs of eyewear design. Look out for a prototype on his new signature collection of sunglasses at the Karl Lagerfeld show on Wednesday. The men’s and women’s eyewear range will be licensed to New York-based Marchon Eyewear Inc. Lagerfeld’s collection of sun specs will hit stores in January, followed by an optical range in April.

COLD SHOULDER: Forgive and forget? Not Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, at least where The New York Times is concerned. The publication’s critics, barred from the Milan duo’s shows for the past year, are still in the penalty box, despite requests for invitations to today’s Dolce & Gabbana show. The Times’ Cathy Horyn declined to comment on the long-running dispute.

VIRTUAL REALITY: Giorgio Armani has made the leap to cyberspace, opening his first store on Second Life and creating his own avatar, or digital replica of himself, complete with sculpted abs, a skintight T-shirt and sneakers. He’s also setting up his very own flagship, replete with Emporio Armani merchandise, a cafe and cosmetics counter. True to his flesh-and-blood counterpart, Armani’s electronic likeness has his share of moments with the press. Today Style.com’s Candy Pratts Price‘s avatar will interview Armani’s avatar in the Second Life store about fashion and innovation.

This story first appeared in the September 27, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

BIG IN JAPAN: Victoria Beckham is expanding her beauty empire. The Spice Girl-turned-designer-turned-perfumer will unveil a makeup line, dubbed V-Sculpt, in Tokyo’s Omotesando Hills today. The collection, which includes blush, eye shadow, mascara and lip gloss, is meant to help create finer features and give a radiant finish à la the supersvelte celebrity. The line will be sold exclusively in Japan for now. Beckham and her soccer-player husband, David, have a beauty deal with Coty.

THOUSAND ISLANDS: OutKast’s André Benjamin, aka Andre 3000, is taking on the rag trade. The dapper pop star, known for his flamboyant jockey-meets-English gentleman style, revealed he will launch a men’s wear line this spring, with plans to soon add a women’s line. A heritage site in Italy might be the location for his first show. “It will be based on vintage classics with modern twists,” said Benjamin of the collection, adding a denim line made from Japanese salvage fabrics is also in the works.

GUNG HO: South Korean actress Unhate Joon caused hardly a stir at the Anna Molinari show on Wednesday, but she’s an A-list celebrity in her home country and in the Far East. After her debut as a pop star, she opted for a movie career. Her debut film three years ago, “Gung,” was an unexpected success and her latest effort, “Coffee Prince,” premiered two weeks ago. Although surrounded by a posse of assistants and translators like any big Hollywood celebrity, Joon is just a regular gal. Her favorite thing in Milan? Plenty of gelato.

LINE DRIVE: Inés Sastre said her next project has nothing to do with movies or modeling, but with her own personal passion. The Lancôme spokeswoman, who took in Roberto Cavalli’s show Wednesday, said she’ll go back to her clubs next week for a golf tournament organized by Dunhill in Scotland. “I’ll be reuniting with Andy Garcia,” said Sastre, who worked with the actor in “The Lost City.”
Meanwhile, opera star Eleonora Abbagnato said she’s entirely focused on her work. In December, she’ll be at Verona’s Arena dancing in “A Midnight Summer Dream,” and has a string of projects coming up in January, choreographed by Pina Bausch and her mentor, Roland Petit.
Caption: Inés Sastre

MATCH POINT: There wasn’t a lot of star wattage at the Emporio Armani show Wednesday, but Giorgio Armani called on a star of another sort to sit front row. Belgian tennis ace Justine Henin, fresh from her second U.S. Open trophy, took in the show as she regrouped on the health front. “I had a bad bout of asthma, but I’m feeling better now. I’m going back to practice next week,” a cheerful Henin said.

GOT TO HAVE FATH: Jacques Fath, the dormant French fashion house, is back in action for spring. A luxury ready-to-wear collection, designed by an in-house team, will be unveiled at the brand’s original headquarters at 3 Rue François during Paris Fashion Week.

“IT” GIRL: Claudia Schiffer took in the Salvatore Ferragamo show Wednesday, but her connection with the Italian house doesn’t end there. Once again, she’ll be in the company’s spring campaign.”I have a couple of other projects, but I can’t talk about them yet,” mused Schiffer. Her only hint? They don’t involve Hollywood. “I’m not really into acting,” she said.

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